Keynote Speakers


Dr. Laura Rendón

Laura Rendon

Laura I. Rendón is Professor Emerita at the University of Texas-San Antonio. She is also an educational consultant and featured speaker at over 100 higher education institutions and conferences throughout the nation. Her presentations focus on topics such as student success, Latinx STEM students, and sensing/thinking deep learning experiences, as well as self-care and healing.

A native of Laredo, Texas Rendón’s passion is ensuring that the nation’s educational system fosters success for all students, especially those who are low-income and first-generation. Rendón developed “validation theory,” an asset-based student success framework that has been employed to frame research studies and programmatic activities in two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Rendón is also a teaching and learning theorist and thought leader. She is the author of the book, Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation (Stylus, 2009), as well as numerous publications focusing on student success and contemplative education.

She is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, a member of the Board of Directors of the John N Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, and former Fellow of the Fetzer Institute. In 2013 the Texas Diversity Council awarded Rendón the title of being one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas.

Rendón’s personal archives are a part of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas-Austin, one of the premier libraries in the world focused on Latin America and Latinx Studies.


Dr. Natasha Croom

Natasha Croom

Dr. Natasha N. Croom is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the College of Education at Clemson University.

Her scholarship centers the experiences of womyn of colour in analyses of institutional practices and policies related to faculty advancement, student development, and intersectional identity development in postsecondary environments. Using critical race feminist perspectives in critical qualitative inquiry, the goal of her scholarship is to critique, disrupt, and dismantle multiple intersecting forms of oppression in higher education in an effort to create equitable spaces, opportunities, and outcomes for womyn of colour.

Her work has been shared in The Review of Higher Education, Negro Educational Review, Equity & Excellence in Education, About Campus, and the Journal for Student Affairs Research and Practice. She is also co-editor of Envisioning Critical Race Praxis in Higher Education through Counter-Storytelling, Envisioning Critical Race Praxis in K-12 Education through Counter-Storytelling both in the Educational Leadership for Social Justice, and Critical Perspectives on Black Women in College. She recently co-edited the first special issue of the NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education entitled Centering the Diverse Experiences of Black Women Undergraduates. In 2015, she was named as an Emerging Scholar by ACPA.

Dr. Croom is highly involved in the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, ACPA – Student Affairs Educators International and currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of College Student Development (JCSD) and the NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education.